Dar e Salaam. Passionate about combining knowledge, art and life-changing personal stories to create digital solutions, two young Tanzanians – Gerald Mukama and Emmanuel Mtera – have taken on the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and turned them into opportunities that are already benefiting many young people.
In 2020, when the pandemic began to ravage economies around the world, forcing many business leaders to count loss after loss, the two young graduates quickly found themselves out of work.
But, as the sages have said through the ages, every cloud has a silver lining… and with challenges come opportunity. The two young men – who studied together at Unique Academy College about five years ago – decided to team up in a company that would lift countless young people out of unemployment.
The two – Gerald Mukama and Emmanuel Mtera – now own a digital platform called “Vijana Tech”.
The digital product trains people in digital marketing, a skill that helps them set up various platforms from which they can earn income.
In 2018, Mr. Mukama, 20, graduated with a certificate in Computer Science and Technology from Unique Academy. Subsequently, he embarked on the establishment of the Vijana Tech platform in order to help other young people to earn a living as well.
In due course, he met different people – and he found himself expanding his ideas and skills and ultimately making better use of his technology during the woes of Covid-19.
Basically, Mukama was the founder of the Vijana Tech platform. But he quickly identified a suitable partner by the name of Emmanuel Mtera.
Their common goal was to pool their ideas and skills so that they could achieve the noble goal of helping their fellow students to get rid of the idea of paid employment and, on the contrary, to use their knowledge to engage in income-generating activities.
Operators at Vijana Tech told PME Digest that their platform is about developing the capacities of young people in various tech skill sets.
In this regard, they focus on awareness raising through organized training sessions; online training; mentoring programs and the provision of opportunities to help beneficiaries grow in their professional activities.
They target young people from different academic and extracurricular backgrounds who are passionate about acquiring technological skills.
“We deliver digital marketing, graphic design, web development, software, software and hardware development programs to RPA,” says Gerald.
In the relatively short time that Vijana Tech has been operating, more than 100 young people have been trained and have been able to open their own income-generating platforms while continuing to seek salaried jobs, he says.
“Vijana Tech is an innovation program whereby we examine some of our community’s most pressing problems and solve them from a technology perspective. In this regard, we have founded several side projects, some of which will become operational soon enough, ”said Mukama.
“We encourage our beneficiaries to use digital skills to create jobs, and not to depend on jobs – which are very rare these days. We also offer free online resources. We offer our online courses free of charge to our “clients”. You just need to be passionate to access our online courses and sessions, ”he told PME Digest.
“I am the founder of Vijana Tech, a project that deals with capacity building and development of young people in various digital skills,” said Mukama.
“In this, we focus on raising awareness through organized training sessions; online training; mentoring programs and providing opportunities to help our beneficiaries grow in their careers.
Mr Mukama adds, “We are both longtime friends and have common interests. We conceived this idea five years ago when we were in school – and after we graduated we started to implement it very seriously. I started, then my friend (Emmanuel Mtera) arrived later. The exposure and mentorship I received from experienced people really helped us get started easily.
Through its activities, the Vijana Tech initiative helps young people to recognize the various opportunities that are available in the digital economy, and cultivates in them the skills and confidence to enable them to take advantage of these and related opportunities. .
Emphasizing that the training is free, Mr. Mukama said that “the only prerequisite for joining Vijana Tech is the aspirants’ passion and curiosity to learn about practical technology.
“Connected to my desire to lead communities towards positive transformation, Vijana Tech also encourages young people to apply what they have learned to effectively address the pressing challenges that hinder their progress,” he explained.
“To date, my colleague and I from Vijana Tech have organized two online training sessions that have reached over 100 young people across Tanzania. From web development to computer programming, young people who complete the training can work as a full-time freelance – or do so while looking for a formal job!
The Vijana Tech team also oversees a number of community projects, such as ‘Find my Hostel’, a research platform that helps university students successfully find quality student accommodation at an affordable price.
“My passion for creating solutions led me to orient myself towards different digital skills, including web development, robotic process automation (RPA) and digital marketing. In 2019, I was one of 23 Africave scholarship holders selected from more than 800 applications from 26 countries.
“In 2020, I was proclaimed ‘National Change Maker’ by We Make Change-Tanzania. Later in the same year I became ‘Africode Fellow:’ a capacity development scholarship for African tech talent, ‘Gerald shares his experience with PME Digest.
“In 2020/2021, I graduated from the #DOTYouth Street Team program – a program that gave me business skills and funding. At the start of 2021, I graduated from the Founder Development Bootcamp by Startup Réseau. I am the winner of the “Tanzania Emerging Youth Awards” in the Innovation category.
“Apart from technological activities, I am a musician who plays the drums and I am also a singer. I am passionate about combining my knowledge, my art and a compelling personal story to create digital solutions for Africa, ”he said.
Impact and future plans
Currently, the “two gentlemen” of Vijana Tech earn an average of $ 400 per month serving people individually, providing technology solution services, providing web development, application development, software development, graphic design, digital marketing and RPA.
“By nurturing my entrepreneurial and problem-solving spirit, Vijana Tech is also tackling the challenge of youth unemployment… A challenge that has been experienced first-hand by me and by my peers. Like most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania has a large youth population. This means that there are more young people looking for a job than there are vacancies to be filled.
“Formal and salaried jobs are scarce in Tanzania; it’s a big jobs crisis. I wanted to help young people stop relying on formal employment and teach them the soft skills needed to help them become self-employed – and create jobs for others.
“In the future, I plan to expand Vijana Tech into an academy and reach even more young people who can then effectively tackle increasingly complex problems using technology.
“Just as I have found and exploited the digital economy opportunity, so can others. Vijana Tech will make sure, ”young Gerald Mukama told PME Digest, overflowing with confidence!